Evening Times

Vale’s bright spot over long-running cup saga

- By JIM O’DONNELL

VALE OF CLYDE boss Gerry McGregor has no complaints over an extended break from competitiv­e action. Indeed, the Tollcross boss describes the five-times postponed Emirates Scottish Junior Cup second-round tie at Johnstone Burgh as a blessing in disguise.

And not just because SJFA chiefs’ mounting frustratio­n at the continued waterlogge­d state of Keanie Park saw them order the tie to be switched to Fullarton Park today.

McGregor said: “Obviously having home advantage can only help our chances of going through and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. But the big plus for me from this enforced lay-off has been the opportunit­y to work with players who were brought to the club during my time away.

“And getting some of the older stagers used to my methods again, as well as having time to spell out exactly what I expect from each and every one of them, will hopefully also prove beneficial in the long run.

“It had to be done because the 5-1 drubbing by Petershill in our last competitiv­e outing in October was nothing short of an embarrassm­ent. I’d like to think that showing turns out as bad as it ever gets for me as the manager of this club.”

He has shown no mercy on his return to the Tin Pail hotseat and seven of the playing squad he inherited have been deemed surplus to requiremen­ts – among them Alan Jack, Andy Kenna and ex-Camelon defender Jim Scott.

And every bit as significan­t has been his appointmen­t of outstandin­g midfield talent Thomas Sinclair as Vale’s new captain.

He added: “Changes had to be made and, without wanting to sound disrespect­ful to any lads who have moved on, I’m a lot happier with the make-up of our dressing room than before.

“Admittedly, the place is still missing a bit of character, but I’m sure that will come once confidence starts to build confidence through putting a few wins on the board.

“I’m under no illusions a long struggle lies ahead, but there were a lot of pleasing signs in a 5-0 friendly defeat of Blantyre Vics last midweek and more of the same against Johnstone Burgh will do me fine.

“Another major boost is in the offing with the imminent return to action of five key players from long-term injuries even though the Burgh game is probably coming along a couple of weeks too early for them.

“Scott Upton (broken foot) and Kieron Downs (groin) are almost there while John Crooks, Jamie Wilson and Alan Mackin are all on the way back from cruciate ligament surgery and are at various stages of recovery.” YET another Emirates nonstarter is midfielder Craig Halliday, whose appeal against his sending-off in a stormy West of Scotland Cup affair against Glenafton irked West Region beaks and they doubled his automatic ban to six matches.

McGregor said: “I feel heart sorry for Craig, not least because almost two months have elapsed since his red card, yet his full sus- pension is yet to be served At this rate, the clocks will have changed back to summer time before he kicks a ball for us again.”

SJFA chiefs will be keeping fingers crossed for a positive result, not least because a draw would entail a replay next week and something of a dilemma as to where to play it given Burgh would claim the game should revert back to them.

Port Glasgow are firm favourites to book a last 32 place at home to lowly Royal Albert.

And East Kilbride fans will be keen to see how their defence copes without commanding stopper Ryan Jordan (transferre­d to Petershill) when taking on Fife cracks Hill O’Beath at the Show Park.

Boss Colin Mitchell is keeping his selection cards close to his chest, however latest signing Danny Simpson from Castlemilk Amateurs could well be the man tasked with filling Jordan’s shoes.

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 ??  ?? Red card appeal has led to six-game ban for Craig Halliday
Red card appeal has led to six-game ban for Craig Halliday

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